Interesting Days

IL714 050-PV-LR

I posted last week about the new addition to our family on the occasion of my daughter’s new baby, and this past weekend my wife and I got to meet my son’s prospective in-laws for the first time; I thought I’d tell you about that as well…

Since they all live in Chicago, some three hours east of here, we had to make the trek to that city for the occasion, which was to be a dinner out on the town. Since they don’t let me drive anymore because I am legally blind (obviously discrimination based on disability!) and my wife’s disdain for parking (lack of it, actually) in Chicago, we decided to take the train. You may not know this, but from where we live on the banks of the Mississippi, the train is not only faster than driving, but it’s also cheaper.

Of course this past Saturday there was an “operational delay” involving our train…

Not too long after letting us know about the delay, we found out that they had arranged for another train to make an unscheduled stop in Galesburg, Illinois to pick up those of us who were stranded there, so roughly an hour later than planned we boarded a train on the last leg of its journey to Chicago from the West Coast. The only problem was the minor detail that all of the seats were already taken… but there was a silver lining to be found; we just went to the club car, where the seats all face outward through very large picture windows on the upper deck, giving us a marvelous view as the world passed by.

The Heartland of America is a wondrous thing to behold in late June and early July as the farms stretch out for as far as the eye can see, lush, green and fertile. It’s no wonder that such a large percentage of the world’s population is fed from these fields. We passed through small towns, rolling hills, flat prairie, over streams and rivers and past bucolic scenes, all of which are the stuff of scenic calendars and post cards; and we had the best seats in the house.

And then we arrived in downtown Chicago… not my favorite city.

Thinking we would be late, we made a mad dash to the restaurant, arriving exactly on time. The restaurant was on a street that reminded me of Washington, D.C. with interesting buildings and wide tree-lined sidewalks, and many cafes and restaurants with sidewalk seating in the summertime. My son had chosen the place because its chef happens to be his roommate, so the food simply arrived from the kitchen in a steady stream. Roommate Ian definitely knows what he’s doing!

Then, he sent out a big platter of alligator; naturally my wife wouldn’t touch the stuff. I did, however, and I am pleased to report to you that as long as you forget that you are eating a particularly nasty reptile that came out of a swamp, it’s actually pretty good, in spite of an interesting texture.

My son’s in-laws-to-be are a wonderful Christian couple, just as nice as can be, as is their lovely daughter; the kid has done all right, the evening was a great success.

We boarded the early morning train to return home on Sunday; the trip was routine and we arrived a little early, but on the way I did happen to witness an amusing little scene. At one of the small town stops along the route, I couldn’t help notice a young couple who had gotten off at the stop. They appeared to me to be very young; she had a backpack and was carrying a very small baby in her arms, while he struggled with two bags slung over his shoulders and two large suitcases in each hand. When they made their way to the covered part of the platform and out of the early morning drizzle, the young man nearly fell over trying to set the suitcases down; I remember those days. Then suddenly an older woman came running up from the direction of the parking lot, camera in hand. The young mother handed the baby to the older lady, I’m guessing this was her introduction to a new grandchild, and she seemed so happy. Suddenly, the train began to slowly pull out of the station. Mom franticly handed the baby to daughter and gestured for all of them to move out toward the train and pose for a photo with the train in the background… they slipped out of my view, but Mom got her photo of the new family’s arrival with her new grandchild, and everything is well with her world.


About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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11 Responses to Interesting Days

  1. Lizzy says:

    Congrats on your new family members! However, I do have one question for you. How could you not like Chicago?! 🙂 I am a city girl from top to bottom. But the quiet, pretty little small towns along Ole Miss are nice to visit!

    BTW — You post some really nice pics!

    • Don Merritt says:

      Thanks Lizzy. As for Chicago…

      I’ve been there many times going back to 1978, my first visit. I’ve been told that Chicago is amazing over and over, going back to elementary school, I even got into a fist fight once over which was better, Chicago or La when a kid from Chicago (who had moved to LA) couldn’t handle the truth that LA is way better; why else had his family moved there? 🙂 There’s the point really, everybody (almost) who tells me Chicago rocks has moved away from there. For me, it lacks the vibrancy of New York, the character of Washington the lifestyle of LA or the beauty of San Francisco or Seattle; it could be any big city.

      My daughter-in-law to be and my son tell me that next visit they’l show me why it’s amazing, so maybe my view will change soon…

      • Lizzy says:

        Every city has its really cool and amazing things that set it apart. I just had to give you a wee rubbing because I am so Chicago. Like I say, you can take the girl out of Chicago but you cannot take Chicago out of the girl!

        Blessings to you today!

  2. Kitsy says:

    God is in His heaven and all is right with the world.

    I love trains. When I took my first government job, it was in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I took the Amtrak sleeper car from Washington, DC to Chicago (both cities have amazing stations) and changed trains in Chicago. Halfway to Ann Arbor, the train hit a semi broadside. The frame of the trailer wrapped around the train and plowed up dirt, gravel, and vegetation for a mile or more. As I was sitting by myself in the first row in the first car behind the engine, I was keenly aware of our situation. Then, as in your case, a train was backed from Ann Arbor to our location to pick us up. The damaged engine and cars were dragged back to Chicago.

  3. dawnlizjones says:

    Congrats on the new additions! We’ve had a few recently also and another on the way.

  4. Sweet. BTW, did you get my email about tomorrow?

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